By Doug Kennedy
For a young man, Garrett McFadden has already had a lot of great life experiences in sports, and his drive, work ethic and desire to help have served him well, both on and off the ice.
McFadden played his minor hockey in Kincardine until bantam, when he went to Grey Bruce AAA. Brian Royle was his all-Ontario peewee coach and Grey-Bruce minor midget coach.
“Over the years, I had the pleasure of coaching many really good players and more great people,” said Royle. “Garrett fits in both categories. As a player, he worked hard on his skills and was ultra-competitive on and off the ice. But the amazing thing to me was how low maintenance he was. Garret really shone off the ice; being an excellent teammate, respectful of everyone, a true pleasure to be around. Garrett using his success to promote McFadden’s Movement is no surprise to me.”
Two of his best hockey memories are winning the all-Ontario peewee championship and the KDSS OFSAA gold medal he won in Peterborough in 2012.
Derrick Burrows has seen as many hockey players come through Kincardine as anyone, and he says “His skating skill and edge work were near perfect. He was a team leader on and off the ice, and is also impressed how much he is giving back at a young age.”
I helped coach the KDSS High School team McFadden played on in 2012, when he led the team in scoring and we won OFSAA. He would have been our best defenseman, but we had 10 players who were all good defenseman. I thought we needed his offense upfront so I played him with Jacob Siekierski and Ryker Killins. The three of them were dominating every shift on the ice. McFadden and Killins could have been our best two defenseman by showing their overall skill by dominating up front. He played left wing in OFSAA and was the leading scorer of the tournament. As one of our captains, Gerrit Satosek said, “I was amazed at how dominant he was on the ice, especially as a Grade 9 playing against kids four years older than him.”
Another coach on the KDSS hockey team, Peter Wolfe, said “the biggest thing he can remember about Garrett was his maturity beyond his years.”
He played for team Ontario in the under 17-tournament in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in 2014. They played Germany, United States, Russia, and Atlantic-Canada and Sweden.
He was drafted twelfth overall in the first round by the Guelph Storm. In his first year, he played on a strong Guelph team that lost in the Memorial cup final. He played in Guelph for five seasons. I am sure he had many chances to get traded to a better team in his last couple seasons, but he choose to stay with Guelph. He was the captain of the Guelph team during his last two years playing for the Storm.
One of his favourite hockey memories was his first year playing for Guelph in the OHL. The team took a trip to Boston to play Boston University and UMass Lowell. He described it as super cool to play NCAA D1 teams and explore the city with his teammates.
One of his most amazing accomplishments has been linked to tragedy. His cousin, Wes Cameron, committed suicide when McFadden was a young teenager. Since then, he has helped form “McFadden’s Movement”, a mental health campaign that strives to change, help and development health initiatives among young athletes. Wes for Youth is one of the organizations Garrett is involved with. He has talked to many minor hockey teams in the Guelph area throughout the WOAA.
Jeff Alcombrack has been his personal trainer for the last 10 years in Kincardine. Jeff says he was one of the most self motivated kids he has ever trained and is impressed with all the good things he is also doing off the ice.
In the 2015-16 and 2016-17 OHL seasons, he was named the OHL Humanitarian of the year. In 2016, he was named the Canadian Hockey League Humanitarian of the year. This award was given to him in part because of his McFadden’s Movement, which has helped many young kids talk about mental health. In 2017, at the University of Guelph, he won the “be the change” award for his leadership skills with youth in the Guelph area.
McFadden’s season came to an early end this year as his team, the Acadia Axemen, were hosting the Canadian University hockey championships. Located about 100 kilometres outside of Halifax, the team was about to play its first game against UQTR Patriots, when the season was ended on March 13. They had a really good season, losing in their league final. He said they have a shot at another league final this year with many returning players.
This summer he is living in Halifax with his girlfriend and training to be ready for next season. The coming year is still up in the air, as some fall university sports have been cancelled until the spring. He will graduate next year with a bachelor of business administration degree.
His future plans include playing some professional hockey in North America first. Down the road playing in Europe is also something he would consider.
Talk about a difference-maker from our home town. McFadden has made a big impression in a lot of areas already at a young age. I am sure this journey has just gotten started. Our community is really proud of you.